Line-of-duty deaths are devastating to families, departments, and communities. Although a line of duty death is uncommon—out of 1.2 million reported fires1 in 2013, 55 firefighters died while engaged in activities at the scene of a fire2—the loss of just one firefighter is unacceptable and focus on "Everyone Goes Home" should be maintained.
The consequences of the line of duty death and its aftermath, including the investigation, are lifelong for everyone involved. Firefighters aren't the only first responders at risk; police officers also lose their lives at fire scenes.3 The process of investigating a fire where a first responder has made the ultimate sacrifice can be overtaken by grief, suspicion, even politics — if the investigator isn't prepared. You never know where or when an LODD will happen, and it happens to departments big and small, career, volunteer, and combination, urban, suburban, and rural. If it does happen and you are assigned to investigate the fire, you must be prepared for what will come, how this investigation will differ from the many others you have conducted, and what you need to do to stay focused on your job but also be sensitive to everything else that accompanies such a devastating loss.
This self-paced program will help you understand what to expect at a fire where an LODD has occurred, what your role is, how to interact with others, and how to handle special circumstances at the scene. The program explains what happens when and LODD occurs, how to interact with other agencies investigating other aspects of the incident, how the emotional impact of an LODD can affect the fire/explosion investigation, how the LODD affects the scene examination and witness interviews, what the fire investigator's responsibilities are at a scene where an LODD occurred, and how to prepare for the possibility of working an investigation with an LODD.
1Source: Karter, Michael J. Jr. Fire Loss In the United States During 2013. September 2014.
2Source: Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2013. USFA. FEMA.
3Preliminary 2014 Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities Report. National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.